December 30, 2019

One more Douro red to round out the year–and this was a Costco find pointed out by my dad and scored during our trip to Iowa (no wine at Costco in Maryland…). We gravitated to it immediately when I saw on the label that the Vale de Cavalos hails from Numão, Vila Nova de Foz Côa. We fell for Douro Superior and this confluence between the Douro and the Côa rivers when we visited Quinta do Vale Meão earlier this year. If this 2016 red blend showed even half of the style and grace of the Vale Meão wines, we had a winner.

We’re happy to report a worthwhile contender. Vinified by Poças, the blend combines 50% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz, and 10 % Tinta Barroca. Earthy and rich, the wine marries a hint of cocoa on the palate with a touch of black raspberry. Moderate, even tannins hold it together nicely without coating the tongue. A great wine with a steak to ring in the new decade…where we look forward to continuing our 366 Vinhos adventure with you!

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Poças

From: DOC Douro

Style: Bold, earthy red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca

Price: About $13 at Costco, $17 online elsewhere

December 23, 2019

It seems like old friends from Portugal still manage to find us during our exile–and in the most unlikely places! Our latest find, the Ruelas Reserva Tinto 2016 crafted with grapes from Quinta do Gradil, which we visited in 2017. Like other projects from the quinta we’ve tasted, it brings together two Portuguese grapes, the Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional, with a “continental” one–in this case Syrah. Given the quinta’s location north of Torres Vedras and south of Óbidos in the Lisboa viticultural region, the Syrah benefits in style from the warm summer sun moderated by winds from the Atlantic, roughly 20 miles away.

The blend pits 50% Tinta Roriz with 30% Touriga Nacional and 20% Syrah, in a deep aubergine color in the glass. Fresh blackberries ply the nose, with a touch of laurel and candied plum. More fresh blackberry on the palate, with even, moderate tannins smoothing out on the finish. 13,5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2016 Quinta do Gradil

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Fruity, moderate red blend

Varieties: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah

Price: About $12 retail

December 16, 2019

We became familiar with the winemaking efforts of Sandra Tavares da Silva through our visits to Quinta de Chocapalha in the Alenquer DOC. She’s perhaps better known outside of Portugal (and within as well) for her project in Douro, Wine & Soul. So imagine our delight in finding at our favorite little shop in Frederick, 7th Street Wine & Spirits, a product of the partnership she’s made there with fellow winemaker (and husband) Jorge Serôdio Borges, the 2013 Manoella.

The red blend marries 60% Touriga Nacional, 25% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Roriz, and 5% Tinta Francisca grown in the Cima-Corgo region of Douro near Pinhão. The grapes are hand-picked because of the steepness of the slopes on the Quinta da Manoella, and all wines are aged in French barriques. Its deep ruby color entices, with black currants and stewed plums on the nose. A rich currant jam follows on the palate with pliable tannins. Excellent with a roast lamb. 14% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2013 Wine & Soul

From: DOC Douro

Style: Rich, intense red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Francisca

Price: About $18 retail

December 9, 2019

Flashing back to a couple of weeks ago, we turned to a tawny port to complement (and round out) our cranberry compote fashioned for Thanksgiving this year. Wo took the opportunity to try one off the shelf at a local wine & spirits shop in our new town in Maryland, just to compare the selection, pricing, and quality of those available. Obviously, we didn’t expect much, but I was stunned to see the 30-year-old Graham’s Tawny that I adore offered for $140. Yowza. Passed that by for a much more reasonable Noval Tawny Porto, imported by Vintus and labeled for American audiences.

The port harkens from near Pinhão, DOC Douro, of course, with a typical amber color. Broad strokes of raisins ply the nose and come forward on the palate, with some fresh backberries and a touch of hazelnut. A reasonable finish meant this port could be tasted with dessert cheeses as well as create depth in the cranberry sauce. 19,5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: NV Tawny Quinta do Noval

From: DOC Douro

Style: NV Tawny Port

Varieties: Port red grapes, field blend

Price: About $12-15 retail

December 2, 2019

We pick up where we left off in November with the branco version of the Paxis blends from VR Lisboa. The particular bottle, like the tinto we talked of previously, is one of the “Bulldog” series, supposedly inspired by the producer (DFJ Vinhos) and the chants he’d heard while attending sports events in the UK. However obtuse the reference, the white blend is our favorite of the two, and makes for an excellent weeknight wine.

The blend features Arinto, Fernão Pires, Alvarinho, and Chardonnay, and for me the Arinto really takes a step forward in the mix. The spicy nature comes through on the nose, with a moderate amount of body, and broad tropical and pineapple flavors. It was just dry enough to work with the moules mariniére we had to celebrate our first Saturday night in the new house. 12%abv

Vintage & Producer: 2017 DFJ Vinhos

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Moderate-density, fruity white

Varieties: Arinto, Fernão Pires, Alvarinho, and Chardonnay

Price: about $10 at the local wine shop

Leave a Reply